Friday, February 5, 2010

Saint James Street in The Second Season

The Apartment

I have seen lovers. I have seen more lovers come, go, linger, falter, and fail than any one lifetime should create. Decades of lovers lost in themselves. Lovers making love on these old woodened floors, creaking beneath the weight of something that for meaning so much, never lasts all that long. The gradations of love look differently in every season. Fall is peaceful and fluid in its motions and intentions. They tend to have company for the sole purpose of putting their love on display. The house is kept very clean, and the windows are always open inviting the city in to be a part of this life. The evenings are still long, and they drink cheap box wine late into the mornings. In winter they huddle close and make meat filled dinners, leaving the dishes in the sink for days. They put extra blankets on the bed and sleep buried while fragments of the frigid winds whip and cut, sneaking through cracks of these old uninsulated windows, forcing the warped glass to tremble. In spring they tend to come and go. New beginnings. They come here with wide eyes and held hands. They point here and there at where their furniture they haven’t bought from garage sales on Lyndale will go. Some are quick to fill this atmosphere, others leave boxes packed for months and their mattress in the middle of the dining room, making love as often as they can on a shrine to their new life they are bent on building. Summers are the hardest, but the most rewarding if they can survive it. The heat is oppressive, strangulating, and smothering in its love and intentions. It can bring an anxiety that eats away at you from the outside in. It will serve either as the wedge that divides continents or the plaster filling in the cracks of fragile structures. The city outside breathes heavily on it’s own life. A soup of sounds comes seeping through the windows where spring breezes used to be. She wears a white sheer cotton sundress and lays down on an old lumpy couch covered in a white sheet to look newer again. The humidity makes it impossible to get clean, nonetheless he finds her to be more beautiful than ever. He becomes convinced lately that life could always look like this, that the days will always be this long, and their love will always mean this much. The hallway to the kitchen is crooked and quite narrow, on a many drunken evening they bounce down it like pinballs to get another drink. The floor in the kitchen is checkered white and black linoleum and slopes noticeably to the left and toward the refrigerator. For having seen so many lovers, I have only seen love like theirs twice before, and only once it ended well. His utter devotion to her every ounce of existence, and her oblivion appreciation for it. Standing on the lower half the slope she makes two drinks with enough ice for four. A few cubes miss the cups and she leaves them on the floor to melt into little puddles that will evaporate before the next drink is poured. The heat crazes their love, giving it new life, and I watch with the astonishment of someone who says they have seen it all before. Love like this I believe we only get once. Love that makes the rest of your life worth living rather than watching. Love coupled with pure abandonment and loss of consequence. The kind of love that is only possible once because after you lose it, everything else seems cluttered, and used. Love that if you are lucky and careful you can hold onto, but very few do. On the fourth floor she is finishing the drinks and putting the scotch in the freezer when he walks past in crisp white boxer shorts. Past the sloping floor there is an old wooden door that in the summer heat, swells and sticks, and hates to open. He goes out here to smoke his menthol cigarettes that he licks and rolls in thin crisp white lines of cocaine. It is late in the afternoon but young in the evening. The sun is forgiving but the heat still is not. She looks through the small warped glass of the back door at his figure in golden light, and she can smell his cigarettes through the cracks of the wood. His special cigarettes have a certain scent to them of melting chemicals, and dying days. She doesn’t know this now but the smell of those cigarettes will always remind her of this specific moment. Although there have been many just like this, those will all go forgotten and this one will stay like a postcard on the refrigerator from a place you cant quite remember being.

Close but not Quite

“You are easy to see.” he said to me. I felt my heart blush. His demeanor reminds me of a certain winter. Cold wood floors, and glass cases. I have had more and better love than him, but never in such dramatic and destructive doses.

Gypsy Woman

She had a gypsy jingle everywhere she went. Were there bells around her wrists? I don’t remember... but there were stars in her eyes, no doubt. I never knew her the way I wished to. Only scenes, bits, and pieces on the best of days. Those jade bracelets and their jingle were a warning to her presence, that I never took heed to.

Love for Sale

I watched her waiting for me, of course she had no idea. I was still in the apartment, looking out the front window at her down on the curb. The day was young, we both had only a few drinks the night before. We got up early for a farmers market she had been talking about since we moved into the apartment. The Honey. She wanted good honey for her tea. She drank so much tea that I would find glasses strewn throughout the house, empty, except for dried up tea bags clinging lifelessly to the bottoms and sides of the cups. I remember thinking that specifically on this day; she looked beautiful. Sitting on the curb she ashed her cigarette between her legs. She had on my old Motley Crue t-shirt from high school, and her favorite jean shorts, the ones with a T.S Elliot poem inscribed on the back left pocket. At the market I followed her around. I wasn’t interested in anything but her. She bought yellow flowers, vegetables we never ate and let go bad, a mirror for the bathroom even though we already had one, and honey, lots of honey. I carried everything for her, she kissed my cheek after every purchase. She said things like, “Isn’t this fun,” and, “our house will look so cute.” I loved the way that sounded from her lips: ‘our house’ it was beautiful, and there was sun, and from all my memories I think this was the most peaceful day we had.

C.C Club

We have been making an honest effort for four hours at the C.C Club; tryin hard to drown on dry land. I’ve been faithful to Jameson, and have no intention of cheating on him now. The boys, they’re being boys, and I am searching for different angles to let the spotlight hit me at. I have recently reinstated my mild eating disorder and it has me feeling pretty thin, and thin pretty. It is a certain confidence that comes with it. The way these jean shorts hang when I turn left, and the enclave of my stomach hiding beneath my blue flowered crop top. This motley crew I run around with is a rag tag team of wanna-be world changers disguised as waitresses and bartenders. We are the middle men of history. He leaves every seven minutes to smoke outside and I am left taking notes on bar napkins and then tucking them inside my bra for safe keeping. I like it here. I know it here. The bartender calls me by the name on my fake ID.


The apartment on James Street had an old gas stove with a bad temper. On an unnoticeably Thursday evening cooking tilapia fish tacos the right burner blew like a solar flare. It caught fire to a poem she had written on a cocktail napkin at work and then taped to the refrigerator. It happened so quickly, so feverishly that not for a moment was there a thought for what could be done. She gasped and grabbed for him, he cussed and grabbed for her. Her words lost forever, rained down in a thin ash across their half prepared dinner.

Trade Winds

It was April when she caught the notion, like a bad cold the trade winds blew in from somewhere exotic but toxic.
“I quit my job,” she said over her earl grey, casual as if she had bought a new lamp.
The next week she came home having dyed her mousy brown hair a deep black, and chopped it off above her ears.
“You look like Audrey Hepburn,” I told her and she made love to me in the way when we first met.

Tarot Reading

Something was not right, she could feel it in the hollows of her bones. Either the wind was changing, the stars were moving, or something bad was on its way into town. It was something happening to her, around her, and completely out of her control. It was making the muscles around her spine tighten and her stomach turn. “There is trust for no-one,” she says to herself. “Anyone can betray you, and there is no way to ever tell who someone truly is no matter how long or how deeply you think you know them.” Her own neurosis were taking her down dark paths and spitting her out in places she had sworn she’d never go back to. Every ounce of intention was being focused on moving forward, forcing these bad thoughts out of her being. It had been many moons since she had felt alone or even felt a gust of loneliness for that matter. Something is so not right. Not right at all. So she sat down on the floor of the holy ground they share, closed her eyes and began shuffling. The rhythm of the cards calms her soul as she speaks questions of deep concern and concentration into the energy of the cards. She cuts the deck and lays the ten card spread, and watches all of her fears unfold before her eyes. Everything she knew was true but refused to face was spelled out clearly in the three of swords. One heart pierced by three swords. Something defiantly is not right.


I don’t want to dry you out, or drive you away. I know I have the tendency to treat people that way. I want you to be different, but I cannot ignore this notion of change, and the six of swords. Life is beckoning me west. How long can I not listen? I lay down in the middle of the narrow hallway, with my head at the bathroom door to watch you shave your face. The care and precision you use is sexy, and the concentration. You talk to my half naked reflection, “get dressed. we’ll be late.”
“I am already late.”
You cut your chin, and bright blood runs down your neck in a single river mixing with white shaving cream and then drips into the sink.
The tests will all be negative. Because it will come the next day. With the relief, I will decide to leave West in the fall, but I wont tell you till August.

Walk It Off

She walks from one end of the narrow apartment to the other, each step her feet peel off the old sticky wood floors. The heat of August hangs around like an unwelcome but inevitable guest overstaying their unexpected arrival.
“You’re making yourself hotter,” he says from the futon stretched out naked in front of the fan.
“No it calms me.”
“To pace?” he asks.
“I am not pacing, I am strolling. And yes.”
He watches her cross the apartment, taking notes of her presence on the synapses of his mind, so that when she finally left him she would be partially left behind. The length of her stride, the diameter of her hips, the angle made by the bend in her arm, and the slow slope of her neck greeting her shoulders.

That August

Since she had decided she would leave, their love tended to be strained and smiles forced. He wore his resentment like a badge of honor and a bad excuse to drink relentlessly and raise his voice. On these evenings his antics chipped away at her thinning hopes that things may work out. She’d begun to consider August as a ticking time bomb of their life left together. While it was hard for her to leave, it was harder for him to be the one left behind in a shell of a life that used to be shared with someone else. As he pours himself the last of a bottle of Jameson in a plastic tumbler over half melted ice, she finishes hers to keep up. The first week of August has a heat that wears tension, begging insanity and edginess. He eyes her from across the room as she turns on Atmosphere to ease the mood: “I love you, done ever fucking question that. That’s why we’ll probably never get along...” Sean Daily croons from the boombox on cinder blocks in the corner. She tries to make him happy, he tries to enjoy the time they have left, but it eats away at him. He wishes she were gone already so he could begin the mending process and hate her. But so long as her soul danced in-front of him on these old wood floors, he knew he could not deny her his love. She shakes her hips to the beat of the music and he swirls his ice in suit. He fights himself when his throat tightens.

Home has No Heart

He came home on Sundays. The suburbs made his rage worse, and his spine hurt. His parents house is a whore full of forgettable memories. The grass is overgrown and looks combed to one side where the willow bends down to kiss it. The flower beds are empty, chunky, and unfit for survival. He parks his Ford Taurus on the side of the narrow pot holed street, and contemplates leaving several times. The house smells the way it smelled his entire life; like stale cigarettes smoked without an opened window. The television in the living room is on at a muffled volume playing reruns of Taxi. The way the light is filtering through the unwashed windows makes the whole scene looks like a pub in Cincinnati. In front of the television on tan shag carpeting littered with cigarette burns sits a glass tumbler, empty, aside from melting ice.
“Don’t touch that,” his father says from the entry way to the kitchen.
“What are you doing here?”
“It is sunday. I come over every Sunday.”
“It is not Sunday.”
“It’s Sunday.”
“Its not Sunday. I don't drink on Sunday, because you insist on coming over.”
“It IS Sunday.”
“You and your judgments, and your black buzzer you always talkin on about nothing, and..”
“Dad since you obviously are drinking, can I have one?”
His father is a thin man who has the appearance of once upon a time being handsome, and charming. Those attributes have long since faded away under the pressures of life, children, money, and an honest effort to excessively drink and smoke. He waddles into the kitchen and curses under his breath, “It is not fucking Sunday. I know what fuck day it is.” But he comes back into the living room with a full glass of bourbon flirting with one single cube of ice.
They both say nothing but raise their glass and drink, making them for a moment so obviously father and son.
“Anne left.”
“I knew she would,” his father said.
“She always smelled like an expensive whore,” said his father.
They both drink to that and head outside to the deck where they both light menthol cigarettes with the flick of a single match. He exhales slowly as if the smoke will map out some plan for life. It doesn’t. It just dissipates into the wind, more like life than any map ever could be.


The flight was full.
“I am worried about time,” a man mumbled under his breath.
“Aren’t we all.” she said spitefully. aggressively. regretfully.
“Oh yes of course, my apologies miss..”
She seemed surprised my his articulation, annunciation, presentation.
She stayed to continue their conversation,“Im traveling West to find my dreams,” she said.
“You mean to fulfill?” he asked.
“No, to find. My mother told me I only dream in black and white.”
“I’m sorry. I had dreams. Then I found them, only to find they looked much better in my mind.” His voice had a slow southern meandering quality to it. He adjusted his belt buckle after, as if the statement had taken a lot out of him.

His Heart

That bitch played the strings of my heart with broken bloodied finger tips. She promised me lives that I knew there would never be enough time to live, and I agreed with uncommon complacency. I asked her often where she “got off walking out of heaven,” and I meant it. I encouraged her to ravish and ruin my existence. I felt like nothing without her opinion. Where there once were vibrant hues and ethereal glows, I now find only faded grays and tones of beige. Everyone says “this too shall pass,” but I find even that saddening. If this gaping hole is all I have left to remember her by, then I will gladly set up camp in the hollows of my mind. I want nothing more than to continue existing undisturbed from the necessities of smiles and polite hellos. Please do not speak to me, do not ask me if I am alright. Just let me lay here and whisper goodnight, to the place she used to be.

Return to Sender

I write him daily letters of apology that I never send, because he is never in one place for very long, and I usually find out where that is only after he has moved on. Even if I did, he would know that I wrote them more for me and less for him. I couldn’t bear for him to hate my memory more than he always already does. They are always different, but carry the same tune, sounding something like this:
We Never Could have lasted. You hated me too much, and I never loved you quite enough-At least not the way I should have. I know it wasn’t like the photographs, not the end anyway. I know it doesn’t count for much anymore. But I am sorry. For everything. I am so sorry for the way everything transpired. I’m sorry.
Then I sign the letter with blood and tears, fold it in half, and store in my empty heart with the other hundreds of them. xoxo- yours forever.

Sometime, Somewhere

We drink to days long since gone by, and moments no one will ever mention. I remember him as who he was for me, and find it hard to reconcile that with the man I see in front of me. His shoulders are broad and strong and his hair is long. His eyes are darker and world weary from journeys I will never know of and only feign to imagine. On his left hand he wears three silver rings. Two that he acquired in Italy, and one that was mine once upon a time ago. I find it flattering and a hopeful sign that he never forgot me. That maybe I had an impression on his outrageous existence. I imagine him in a bar several worlds away where no-one speaks the way we do. He is listening to a story he has heard twice before and twirling the ring around his index finger, wondering who I was being at that very moment.
I think about you like time. Something that leaves no matter what. you cannot stop it. I can see you stealing time from me.
I would never tell anyone. But sometimes, at stoplights, I think about you.
SO late it was early.

Sometime, Somewhere

I sit twirling my rings for a moment thinking about this girl who had left me behind. I wonder where she has been all this time. Still with her gypsy jade jewelry and emerald eyes, still six years later you force my fumble. I drink quickly to hide my rage, and ease her nerves. She wants to kiss me, someone must have hurt her, She plays nostalgia like a broken record, and I smoke incessantly. Her lips are the same but the way they speak has changed. The words are there but the meaning is gone, or lost, or stolen. The way she carries herself, with an effortless grace Her wrists look smaller than I remember, like they can hardly hold the glass.
I think about you like time. Something that leaves no matter what. you cannot stop it. I can see you stealing time from me.
I would never tell anyone. But sometimes, at stoplights, I think about you.
SO late it was early.